7 Steps to Getting Wrinkles Out of Your Table Linens
Table linens are the finishing touch to a table and one that can make even the most ordinary dining experience extraordinary. Unfortunately, creases and wrinkles are the reality of using pure finish 100% linen or cotton table linens. All table linens will get wrinkled and show wear after multiple uses or after being stored incorrectly, making your table less appealing and reducing the lifespan of your linens.
It’s important to treat your luxury table linens as you would any other fine product in your household: with great care and attention. So, you need a process of taking care of and removing wrinkles after washing or storing your linens that preserves the quality and life of your table linens, from tablecloths to placemats to napkins.
Liz Barbatelli is the industry’s leading expert in artful living and fine linens. With decades of experience in luxury linens and styling, Liz offers her creative services to a multitude of elite clientele. She also spearheads The Laundry at Linens Limited, a traditional artisan laundering service, where she along with her staff dedicates her knowledge and expertise to providing excellent service in caring for your luxury linens as well as curating premium care products for your home.
Below are 7 steps that Liz has shared to properly care for and remove wrinkles from your table linens, so that they look and feel perfect time and time again. Bear in mind, that most winkles occur after washing. This is where the real care comes in to play.
Follow These Steps to Get Wrinkles Out of Your Table Linens
Step 1: Prep for Washing
Before you even begin the de-wrinkling process, it is important to prep your linens for washing to ensure longevity and preserve the appearance and feel.
Sort your linens the same way you would any laundry – separate your whites, light colors, and dark colors. It is best to avoid mixing colors in the wash so they do not bleed onto the white fabrics. If you have new linens that feature colored embroidery or fabric applique, then you may want to rinse them in cold water before putting them in the washer for the first few wash cycles to avoid color transfer.
Step 2: Washing
The first thing you’ll want to do to de-wrinkle your table linens will be to wash them. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re preserving their shape, color, and feel.
Detergent: While filling your load with water, dissolve a PH-balanced laundry detergent that doesn’t contain any additives, like bleach or brightening alternatives. The Laundry’s Finest Laundry Powder is formulated to provide a safe and gentle wash every time. Time-tested for over 50 years, this PH-balanced and biodegradable detergent is perfect for preserving the quality of your fine linens and clothing.
Do not use any fabric softeners or bleach in your washer when washing your table linens. It’s important to remember that discoloration is virtually impossible to reverse. If your table linens are used daily and depending on the stain, you can spot clean the stains with water and gentle detergent, Dawn, Fels-Naphtha Laundry Bar, or using a spray and wash product like Oxy-Clean, Zout, or Spray n’ Wash. Take care in reading the suggested instructions for all additives and cleaning agents.
Cycle: Most table linens may be washed using the regular wash setting. If the table linen is particularly fragile or the fabric appears weak, you may use the gentle setting.
Temperature: To ensure that any creases and wrinkles are washed out, you will want to wash your table linens using plenty of cool or warm water with a cool rinse. This is recommended because these moderate temperatures effectively clean your items while avoid shrinking or bleeding colors. Most table linens do not have a care label. 100% linen or cotton table linens are designed to be laundered. In the instance where you have specialty napkins or placemats that are close to your heart or special to you, err on the side of caution and always opt for cool or warm water and the gentle cycle when washing.
Most items will come out clean using warm or sometimes cold water, but hot water may be used on particularly soiled white or light-colored items that contain grease, lip stick, or oily based sauces and for optimal sanitizing benefits. Hot water can be good for stain removal but may be more damaging to the fibers.
Step 3: Drying
After removing your linens from the washer, you will need to decide which process to use for drying them to achieve the best results. Read below to see when to hang dry and when to use a dryer.
When to hang dry
To preserve and increase the life of any item, especially your favorite table linens, air-drying is the preferred method. You can use either a drying rack or a clothesline to do this. Be aware that most table linens will lose their form in the washer, so you will want to reshape them by hand while still damp to help restore their form. While this may take some extra time, you will achieve a finer finish that will require less ironing in the next step.
When to use a dryer
You can use a dryer for a quicker method to dry your linens, but it’s best to remove items from the dryer immediately when dry, when the dryer buzzer rings, or even while still slightly damp, to avoid wrinkles. Then, smooth them out by laying them flat, neatly folding them, or hanging them to allow them to continue drying and cool without wrinkling. While this may take a little extra time, you will achieve a finer finish that will require less ironing in the next step.
Temperature setting when using a dryer
While heat mixed with air is typically the fastest way to dry any article of clothing or fine table linens, in general heat can be very destructive to your favorite article of clothing and your fine table linens. That’s because excessive amounts of heat, applied over long periods, can cause the fibers in your fabric to break down. When you use a dryer, a warm or permanent press setting is preferable for more delicate or favorite items.
Step 4: Straightening After Drying
Sometimes your table linens will still have wrinkles after they have already been washed and fully dried. This can happen when they are left in the dryer too long or put away without ironing.
Before you toss them back into the dryer (a commonly shared tip for de-wrinkling clothing), try these methods first to avoid damaging the fibers of your linens:
Rewet with Spray Bottle
When straightening at home, it is suggested to rewet your table linens. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray gingerly onto your linens, smooth out the wrinkles and creases and let them air-dry on a drying rack. Air drying may allow the creases and wrinkles to diminish.
But, the best way to get wrinkles out and to achieve the finest finish, is by ironing the items carefully with precision while damp.
This process may not work as effectively if your linens have been in the dryer for too long as wrinkles will have set in. If this is the case, you may try to remove the wrinkles by fluffing them in the dryer. If that does not work, they will have to be re-wet in washing machine and start the drying process over again!
Using a home pressing machine
Laundry presses are mechanical appliances that can remove wrinkles and creases from shirts and other clothing. These are often used at laundering and dry cleaning companies but now a few companies make them for home use. Many people like these kind of pressing machines by Miele and some other manufacturers. They can be effective but can be costly and you will need a proper place to use and store them.
At a specialty laundry like The Laundry, old world techniques such as washing each order individually, stretching items and letting them air dry, then touching up the areas that need perfecting are followed. Finally, the items are folded, hung or rolled on special rollers using acid free tissue paper to keep the items looking crisp and ready for use. These processes are time consuming and achieve the best finishing. Whether it is your treasured tablecloth, favorite blouse, or your special vintage car, caring for your favorite items requires effort and time.
All of the above instructions can be applied to bed linens, towels, and your favorite clothing. Although your towels will not need pressing. Pressing should also be used for bed linens like sheets, shams, cases, duvet covers, and coverlets. If you are laundering towels, down comforters, down pillows, quilts, or other heavier items, the process will differ as they need to be extra dry.
Step 5: Prepping Your Table Linen For Ironing
If you are going to use ironing as a method to remove wrinkles from your linens, you’ll want to prep your linens beforehand. The best way to do that, as mentioned above, is by rewetting your linens. You want your fabric to be slightly damp. There are two simple ways you can do this.
Rewet your linens by using a spray bottle filled with water.
Put your items in the washer and select the rinse cycle to rewet and spin the items again.
Step 6: Ironing
It is important to invest in a nice, sturdy, and as large as possible, ironing board and a good iron. The ironing board should be covered with a nice thick pad. For added thickness, you can place a terrycloth towel on top.
Once you have rewet your table linens and placed it on the ironing board you can begin ironing. As you iron, keep your spray bottle handy so that you can dampen areas that may have dried.
Personally, I do not use water in my iron. While it can be effective and a little faster, it can cause stains on your items. It is safest to use a dry iron and a spray bottle.
If you do use a steam iron, you will want to empty the water every time you stop using it. This will help avoid any brown or discolored water from leaking onto your linens when ironing the next time.
After putting fresh water in and heating your iron, engage the steam before using it to dispel any leftover old water or stained water. Then, use the iron on a small piece to make sure that no dirty water is expelled from the iron.
Carefully iron the wrinkles out of your linens, starting from the center and working your way out or along the seam. You can also use these methods for ironing other items, such as clothing or bed linens.
Take care and time for the best finish.
Step 7: Storing/Folding Your Linens
Folding and storing your linens properly can help to keep them wrinkle-free and prolong their life. After washing and cleaning your linens, make sure they are fully dry before folding or putting them away.
Start by laying them fully flat and smoothen out to ensure no extra creases. Fold them in half, aligning the corners. Repeat this step as many times as needed depending on the size of your tablecloth. Turn the linen and fold in half the other direction. Repeat as needed.
Now, it’s time to decide where you’d like to store your linens. Only store your linens in a cool and dry space away from direct sunlight that may fade colors and quality over time.
There are three ways to store your linens, fold them, hang them, or put them on a roller. The third option is difficult to do at home. So, I recommend folding them or hanging them.
To keep your table linens wrinkle-free and easily accessible by choosing which method suits you and your space. You can ask your dry cleaner to sell you a padded hangers or two, should you decide that you would like to hang them. Otherwise, folding them neatly, wrapping them in acid free tissue paper and storing them in a cool, dry closet, dresser or cabinet.
You can also store them in plastic containers. Avoid placing them directly on the wood of a dresser or cabinet or a wooden box, this may tarnish and yellow the fabric.
Caring for Your Luxury Table Linens to Reduce Wrinkles
Keeping your luxury or vintage linens wrinkle-free requires attention to detail and patience. When caring for your table linens at home, there are some basic rules that you can follow to keep not only your table linens but also all of your household linens looking their best and lasting longer.
Fine fabrics merit fine laundering. If you have linens that are made of a fine fabric like linen or cotton, plain weave or damask, and/or embellished with embroidery or lace, you may want to consider having them professionally laundered and finished. The Laundry at Linens Limited, Inc. www.linenlaundry.com has been caring for all its customers’ laundry needs for over 68 years! The Laundry dedicates its time and service to restoring and caring for your linens through its distinctive, old-artisan approach to laundering.
Whatever method you choose to launder your fine linens, following these steps at home can keep your table linens looking and feeling their best, enhancing your entertainment experience for years to come.
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